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Repeal & Replace With What? GOP Still Short On Answers

From the editorial board of Anderson’s Independent Mail:

What will Republicans offer the American people if the party’s efforts to repeal health-care reform are successful?

“Replacing ‘Obamacare’ is not something we can do overnight,” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., told the Washington Post. “It may take some time. But mark my words, we will get it done.” So far, however, all that has been accomplished (at least for the record) is the drafting of a resolution containing “broad, long-held GOP health-care goals” but no specifics — and the directing of four House committees to develop proposals.

The truth is, according to Fox News, the only plan the GOP has right now is to deny funding for the current plan. In a Feb. 8 story headlined “Republicans plan to choke off funding for health-care law,” the network reported that some House Republicans were eyeing the annual spending bill to pay for government operations as a way to “strip the health-care law of any dollars, thus depriving health-care operations of any money.”

Now that’s productive.

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Ignoring The People’s Will, House Blocks Reform Funds

The House-passed amendment takes aim at the Department of Health and Human Services. | AP Photo
From Politico:
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2/18/11 3:09 PM EST

The House voted Friday to block funding for the health care law in several ways – starting the countdown to the defunding clash with Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama.

As expected, it approved Rep. Denny Rehberg’s amendment to the continuing resolution, which bans all payments to “any employee, officer, contractor, or grantee of any department or agency” to implement the law.

The Montana Republican’s amendment is aimed at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor Department.

But it also gave unexpected victories to Steve King of Iowa, approving broader measures to deny any implementation funds in the continuing resolution and block salaries to enforce the entire law.

And it approved another measure by Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri to block funding for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce the individual mandate – the wildly unpopular requirement for everyone to get health coverage starting in 2014.

None of the measures completely “defund” the health care law, because large sums of money are out of the reach of the spending bill. King lost an earlier bid, as expected, to cut off the roughly $105 billion that’s automatically appropriated under the law. It was struck down on a point of order, because it was considered legislating on an appropriations bill.

But taken together, they could add one more element of tension to the growing prospect of a government shutdown. That’s becoming a more realistic possibility if Obama, House Republicans and Senate Democrats can’t find common ground on the bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year – and especially if they can’t agree on spending levels for a short-term extension to buy them some time.

The amendments won’t become law, as they’re written now, because they won’t get through the Democratic Senate. But they’ll be powerful bargaining chips when the House negotiates the final spending bill with the Senate — and probably with the administration, since Obama would have to sign it into law.

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Poll: Majority Disapproves Of Effort To Block Reform

From the Los Angeles Times:

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February 16, 2011
By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Even as Republicans attempt to de-fund the president’s healthcare overhaul on the House floor this week, a new poll suggests that they should proceed with caution.

The CBS News poll, conducted over the weekend, shows that although most Americans dislike the healthcare law, they also disapprove of the GOP’s attempts to cut off funding for the sweeping measure.

The seeming paradox is partially explained by a growing number of Americans — 44% — who are unsure about what the law actually does and doesn’t do. Some of the benefits of the law, such as a provision that permits post-college-age children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans, are already in operation. Others, such as state insurance exchanges, won’t be in place for at least two years.

After Republicans were unable to secure enough votes in the Senate earlier this month to repeal the healthcare law, their attention turned to de-funding it through the appropriations process.

With an extended debate underway in the House on a 2011 spending bill, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Montana) Wednesday introduced an amendment that would cut off all funding for the law.

“The House already passed legislation to repeal Obamacare, fulfilling the promise we made to the American people,” Rehberg said in a statement. ” My amendment prevents funding from being used to implement Obamacare while we continue to work for a full legislative or judicial repeal.”

Rehberg is running for the U.S. Senate seat in Montana held by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

According to the CBS poll, 51% of Americans surveyed disapproved of the law (compared with just 33% in favor), and 55% disapproved of the GOP’s de-funding plan, with 35% approving.

The biggest danger for the GOP? Forty-nine percent of independents, who will be crucial to Republican hopes for securing the White House and Senate in 2012, don’t like the idea of stripping out funding for the law.

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